After three days of intense dialogue on topics ranging
from human development to arts and culture to security, the Sixth
US-Islamic World Forum yesterday ended on a high-note on the back of
political change in the US and signs of acceptability being shown by
the Muslim world.
nsistence on “deeds” now, rather than continued dialogue was also echoed by participants at a highly-charged closing session.
have discovered over six years that we can serve as an incubator but
its up to you (the participants from across the Muslim world and US),
who have been involved over the years to take the initiative forward,”
Martin Indyk, the director of Saban Center at Brookings Institute,
which co-organise the annual event with Qatari Foreign Ministry, said. Offering
her closing perspective, Nashwa al-Ruwaini, executive director and
board member of the Middle East International Film Festival said she
would like Muslims to be treated on equal grounds.
“As an Arab
Muslim, we don’t want America to love us or hate us. We want to be
treated equal ground. What we were trying here was to find a common
ground,” al-Ruwaini, who was instrumental in starting the ‘Muslims on
the Screen’ project, said.
“It took two women to start that
initiative. Then it spread from Abu Dhabi to San Francisco and that’s
when we found that we (Arabs) weren’t really the new Russians or
Germans,” she added.
Her recommendations included more government
fundings for arts and cultures; US funding certain TV or media
initiatives that can “really make a difference” and opening of American
cultural centres across the Muslim world.
Sally Quinn of The
Washington Post made a more compelling call when she remarked that the
“common word has been established for over a year. It is now time for a
She was referencing to “a common word”, a letter
signed by over 130 Muslims scholars of all Islamic thoughts on October
13, 2007, who unanimously came together to declare the common ground
between Christianity and Islam.
“Interfaith dialogue is good but
more of it is counter-productive. It’s basically the people who already
agree, agreeing to each other,” Quinn said.
“There should have been more ‘action’ this year (forum).”
Baswedan, rector of Paramadina University, Indonesia pointed out much
focus was put on the Muslims outside the US, while the Muslims in the
US, one of the fastest rising populace, were not discussed.
also noted how improved governance and democratic institutions in the
Muslim World can bring stability by giving examples of Indonesia.
Muslim leaders must get away from rhetoric and turn abstracts into realities for billions of Muslims.”
Congressman Brian Baird said: “One of things I noted here is the
recurrent awareness that we have a responsibility and the idea that,
instead of looking at the US, it can start from here is overwhelming.”
Qatar-based Education City and the technology incubator, Baird added to
Nashwa’s comments on arts and culture as a bridge and said: “More than
TV and culture what people admire more is scientific innovation and
And this region, particularly, is heading exactly in that direction of investing on science, according to him.